Mission: Life Organization, Mom as Project Manager

School started a couple of weeks ago and I have to admit that I’ve been floundering a little bit to keep up with the sheer volume of management my little people are currently requiring. Every single night there is a stack of papers brought home by my girls that must be dealt with to keep lives functioning smoothly.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve tried everything I can think of to manage the chaos. I’ve created a household management command center with calendars and lists, implemented a daily and weekly housecleaning checklist (clean the bathroom on Thursdays, change the sheets on Sundays), meal planning sheet, and an “in-box” of mail I’ve presorted and kept only items that need dealt with.

I still feel like I’m drowning in home/ life management tasks.

After weeks of feeling like this, I finally had an epiphany today.  I manage projects and people for a living. I can do this.

Rather than feeling like I’m continuously taking tasks and responsibilities on myself, I need to present the information to the relevant parties and create joint ownership. I conduct these types of planning sessions at the ad/ marketing agency I work for on a weekly basis and a similar approach could be very effective at home.

Original staff meeting

An early “staff meeting” in which we reviewed photo bombs of the presidential inauguration and proper procedure for washing poopy outfits. The little people have always taken the meetings very seriously.

Enter the Weekly Family Meeting. We started doing these earlier this year as a joke emulating the “staff meetings” in Toy Story (our 5 year old’s favorite movie). We would randomly yell “staff meeting!” at home and then group together and talk about whatever silly thing we could think of to share with the rest of the family. Over the last month or so, I started bringing up weekly schedules to discuss over Sunday lunch and calling them Staff Meetings and then later called them Family Meetings. They were well received and helpful, so I kept doing it. We talked through the calendar for the week and any special events or transportation arrangements that would need to be made.  While very brief, these communications have been extremely helpful. Last week when we didn’t get around to meeting, I regretted it as several things slipped through the cracks.

Today I was a teensy bit overwhelmed (and maybe a little bit resentful?) that I was having to organize our entire lives and come up with healthy meals, keep on top of the family schedule, buy birthday cards and gifts for everyone in our families, manage income and expenses, and otherwise make our lives function, when  it occurred to me that I should share all of this information at family meetings and then maybe everyone would appreciate what it takes to do it all and I could get some help. Then I thought about the pre-meeting work that I would be taking upon myself: preparing balance sheets and pre-filled in calendars and other things that I would have to prepare in advance in order to keep my family informed. Contemplating adding extra work to my plate when I was overwhelmed is when the epiphany happened.

Rather than take all of the household and life management decisions of our family  on my own shoulders, I could just collect the information and present it to the family during our Weekly Family Meeting and not have to come up with all of the answers by myself.

I immediately developed my own Weekly Family Meeting facilitator’s guide.  I’ll be testing this out on the guinea pigs, er I mean my family, tomorrow. The plan is to review the calendar for the upcoming week and month, plan meals taking the schedule into account, discuss upcoming birthdays we need to buy presents for and what we should do, review family finances (ie get everyone on the same page) and update our budget. The idea is to complete this work together as a family, rather than me doing all the planning on my own.

We’ll see how it goes! If it goes well, I’ll post some PDFs with tips. If it doesn’t, we’ll pretend this never happened.

 

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